Mintel: Cost of living puts brakes on e-bike growth – as sales slow for the first time in five years

February 4, 2023

While COVID-19 triggered a rapid growth of e-bikes, new research from Mintel reveals that for the first time in five years, volume and value sales of e-bikes have dipped. Meanwhile, Mintel research shows the average cost of an e-bike has risen 25% since the start of the pandemic.

The number of e-bikes sold rose a record 63% between 2019 and 2020 – the highest annual growth over the period 2017-22, reaching an estimated 155,000 bikes in 2020. Following five consecutive years of growth, volume sales are expected to have slowed in 2022, falling from 160,000 bikes in 2021 back to an estimated 155,000 bikes in 2022. Nevertheless, volume sales have almost tripled over the past five years–as only around 55,000 e-bikes were sold in 2017.

Meanwhile, the value of the e-bike sector almost doubled between 2019 and 2020, from £150 million to £290 million. This is an almost fivefold increase since 2017 when the market was worth £65 million. However, the overall cycling market has entered a sharp downturn over the past 18 months, driven by falling consumer demand and exacerbated by ongoing supply chain problems. In 2022, value sales of e-bikes hit an estimated £310 million, down from £330 million in 2021. Although sales are set to temporarily slow between 2022 and 2023, Mintel predicts faster growth to return to the e-bike market from 2024 onwards.

While e-hybrid/city bikes and e-mountain bikes account for 90% of e-bike sales, Mintel research highlights significant potential for e-cargo bikes*, as half (47%) of Brits agree that e-cargo bikes should be used for deliveries in cities instead of vans.

Mintel research also estimates that around 175,000 e-scooters were sold in the UK in 2021 (around 100,000 adult e-scooters and 75,000 kid e-scooters). The value of this sector in 2021 was estimated to be around £50 million (about £40 million for adult e-scooters and £10 million for kid e-scooters).

Overall, 7% of adults have used e-mobility modes over the past 12 months; 5% have used an e-bike and 4% have used an e-scooter. Despite relatively low usage, some 43% of adults say they would be interested in test-riding an e-bike and 34% would be interested in test-riding an e-scooter.

Paul Davies, Category Director, Leisure Research, Mintel Reports, said:

“Cost is seen by consumers as the biggest barrier to e-bike sales, and the weakness of the pound is likely to push prices higher in this heavily import-led market. Although e-bike customers tend to be relatively affluent, a protracted cost-of-living crisis and income squeeze are likely to delay purchase decisions and some consumers will be priced out of the market. The lack of e-bike purchase subsidies from the government (as seen in other countries) also continues to act as a barrier.

“Brands would benefit from promoting the ‘wellness plus fun’ angle of e-bikes, positioning health benefits—physical and mental—combined with a focus on how e-bikes bring fun to transport. E-bikes offer a more leisurely option, supplementing the still popular, Lycra-clad, performance cycling ethos.”

*A bike used for carrying heavy loads, eg children or goods.

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